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Central African Republic Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT +1.

Electricity

Electrical outlets in the Central African Republic usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.

Language

About 120 languages are spoken in CAR but French and Sangho are the official languages.

Travel Health

Malaria is a problem all over the Central African Republic and some form of prophylaxis is recommended for travel to all areas. A yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into CAR, for all travellers over nine months of age. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and meningococcus. It is also recommended that travellers be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination.

Travellers should not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected, and should avoid ice in beverages. Meals should be eaten while still hot and fruit and vegetables that have not been cooked or peeled should be avoided.

Medical facilities are extremely limited in the CAR; emergency services are unreliable and many medications are not available. Tourists should carry all required medications with them, in their original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what the medications are and why they are needed.

Tipping

Small tips are appreciated in the Central African Republic and tips of about 10 percent are customary for waitrons. Small tips are appreciated by hotel service staff.

Safety Information

Travel safety in the Central African Republic is a major concern for all visitors. The country has essentially been a war zone for much of 2013 and there are reports of rebel activity, banditry and hostage-taking across the Central African Republic. The transitional government, established post the March 2013 overthrow of the government, has had little success in establishing law and order, and criminal activity has increased hugely. The British Foreign Office and the US Department of State have warned their citizens against all travel to the country due to the indiscriminate violence, looting and crime which still plagues it. The capital, Bangui, is still very dangerous, with a curfew in place from midnight to 4am and numerous armed patrols and roadblocks in the city. Armed gangs operate in and around the city. Robbery and assault are unfortunately common occurrences. Travellers in the Central African Republic should exercise extreme caution, avoid walking or driving at night, and should carry no valuables. All political gatherings and street protests should be avoided as they are liable to become violent.

Local Customs

The population of the Central African Republic is split relatively equally between Muslims and Christians and conservative dress is recommended in all areas, which entails covered thighs and shoulders for women. In rural areas it is customary for people to eat with their hands, but one should never eat, shake hands, or offer someone money with their left hand. Always ask permission before photographing a military or government building.

Business

The Central African Republic's economy has suffered in the recent unrest and it is a poor country. A knowledge of French is essential and those who can't speak the language fluently should hire an interpreter. Business cards should be in French and English. Meetings tend to be formal and lightweight suits are the norm. Office hours generally run from 7.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday.

Communications

Communications systems remain a bit chaotic in the Central African Republic. Mobile phone usage is on the rise and roaming agreements exist with a few international mobile phone companies, but coverage is generally limited to Bangui. It is possible to get internet access in most cities and there are usually some internet cafes to make use of. The international dialling code is 236; the country does not use city codes.

Duty Free

Travellers to the Central African Republic are allowed the following: five bottles of alcohol and five bottles of perfume. Men may import up to 1,000 cigarettes or cigarillos/250 cigars/2kg of tobacco, while women may only bring cigarettes. Firearms must be declared. All animal skins and diamonds must be declared on departure.

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